Kent State Greek life learning from mistakes


Michelle Guobadia asks Carmela Mostardi, junior finance major and a member of Chi Omega, what pledging is during her discussion on hazing to the Kent State Greek Community in the Student Center Ballroom Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014.

Erin Zaranec

The first slide of Michelle Guobadia’s presentation read “Who is this woman and why is she so cool?”  Tuesday, Sept. 23 in the Student Center Ballroom. 

The Ballroom was filled with members of Kent State’s Greek life, with Panhellenic Council sororities and Interfraternity Council fraternity members engaging in National Hazing Prevention Week. 

Guobadia showed exactly who she was while she spoke with students about her experience getting hazed while pledging the Chi Theta chapter of Zeta Phi Beta and of her experiences hazing others at the University of Delaware. 

“I’m not like other hazing speakers who stand here and tell you not to haze and it’s wrong and dangerous because I’ve been there and done that and have a PowerPoint to prove it,” Guobadia said. “What I will do is tell you things I didn’t know that you all should.” 

Guobadia had the whole Ballroom laughing with her sense of humor and honesty, but still spoke of hazing’s serious nature, including showing the audience a photo of herself hazing fraternity members while she was at the University of Delaware. 

According to Kent State Greek life’s website, “ALL fraternities and sororities prohibit hazing and all chapters are committed to a membership education period, which instills a sense of responsibility and commitment in new members.” 

Even with this zero-tolerance hazing policy, Kent State has lost two fraternities in the past year due to hazing violations. Kappa Alpha Psi, a National Pan-Hellenic Council fraternity, received a three-year ban in October 2013, after Kent State was alerted to hazing practices at the end of last August. The fraternity will be eligible for reinstatement in May 2016.

More recently, Sigma Tau Gamma received a three-year ban from campus activities and Greek life in May 2014. While the university and Interfraternity Council never commented on the removal, hazing was confirmed to be a factor, according to reports by WKYC.

These suspensions played a large role in the decision to bring an anti-hazing speaker to campus. 

Guobadia began her presentation by having two members of the Greek community clarify the distinction between pledging and hazing. She stressed that pledging was the act of committing yourself to a Greek organization and hazing does not have to be part of that. 

While the distinction is correct, Kent State’s Greek Life is putting an end to the use of word ‘pledge’. 

“In Kent’s Greek community, we have been working hard to stop using the word pledge as a part of our vocabulary,” said Kristy Diesner, Kent State Panhellenic Council President. “The proper term for a person entering Greek life is new member. We all have a new member process where they learn about what the chapter stands for. There is not a pledging process, which is why the term is out of date.”

Kent’s Greek community focuses on making the transition a smooth one for new members instead of isolating new members or making them feel threatened, separated or different from active members. 

“We wanted to show the Greek Community that we are committed to having a community that has no hazing, which was proven by the two fraternities getting kicked off campus,” said Megan Carrasco, senior applied communications major. Carrasco is also the vice president of membership education for Panhellenic Council. 

“We have a zero tolerance policy and we prove to our new members everyday that if you haze, you will leave. If we haze, it makes as just as bad as any gang on the street,”

Carrasco said. 

Both Panhellenic and Interfraternity councils requested that at least half of each chapter be present at Guobadia’s presentation to learn more about the dangers of hazing. 

Members of Kent State’s Greek community are no strangers to the zero-tolerance hazing policy. 

“I believe it (is) important to really express to our current organizations how serious allegations involving hazing can be to scare it out of any groups that still think they’re beyond the university’s radar,” sophomore musical theatre and business major Thomas Hamann said. Hamann is a member of Phi Kappa Tau fraternity. 

Guobadia went over nine common myths about hazing and dispelled them all, pulling from her own personal experience and history of Greek organizations. 

She finished her presentation with the tenth myth, a slide that simply read “nothing’s here.”

“If you’re looking for another excuse, another reason, another justification for hazing, then this is not for you,” Guobadia said, “Take off your letters and please hand them back because we’ve got big things to do here and hazing is not one them.” 

Sophomore fashion merchandising major Champaigne Powell, a member of the Alpha Xi Delta sorority, strongly agreed with Guobadia’s message. 

“We make it very clear to our new members [that we don’t haze] so they know they can feel comfortable in their environment. I know for me personally, I would not want to join an organization that makes me feel any less of a human being than what I am,” Powell said. 

Guobadia’s presentation covered every aspect of hazing, even including a slide dedicated to those who have passed away due to hazing incidences. She spoke of mental illness and how hazing can cause a student to simply snap, like she did when she spit in the food of a sister that hazed her. 

“One person to die in the name of any of our organizations is one too many,” Guobadia said. 

She encouraged students to connect with her on social media during the presentation by using the hashtag #hazingisstupid.

Contact Erin at [email protected].